The good, the bad and the scary of Halloween

Halloween bat pumpkin

Another year, another Halloween. How was it for you? For me, it was a mixed bag (and I don’t mean a mixed bag of sweets).

It’s funny how a day whose origins lie in superstitious beliefs about the dead and evil spirits has become synonymous with garish costumes, children’s laughter and the accumulation of as much sugar as they can handle.

From the trick-or-treating commercial juggernaut that bridges the gap between summer and Thanksgiving in the US (and, increasingly, the UK too) to Mexico’s three-day festival the Day of the Dead (as featured in the new Bond film Spectre), Halloween has instead become synonymous with celebration and gluttony.

The good, the bad and the scary

Is that a bad thing? It depends.

We’re okay with letting our children participate in the Great Annual Sugar-Fest. It’s an excuse for them to get dressed up (which they love), carve out pumpkins and put up decorations (which they also love) and go out collecting sweets (well, duh).

At some point I’d like them to understand exactly what the day is really about but to be honest I chickened out this year and, with Kara a bit under the weather anyway, didn’t want to rain on their parade. Maybe next year.

It wasn’t all goodness and fun, though.

I could certainly live without the small minority of kids who try to grab entire handfuls of sweets from an already half-empty box (yes, I will ask you to put the excess back). Or those who walk away muttering about not receiving bigger treats (it didn’t stop you taking them, though, did it?) Or the ones who decide to consume their sweets on the spot and discard the wrappers on our driveway.

I understand that children get excited and are prone to the sugar-rush of consuming sweets as they go so I’m willing to make allowances, but there’s no disguising the fact that Halloween has a habit of bringing out the naked greed in some kids, which is sad.

On our estate, the torrent of costumed collectors slowed to a trickle by 7pm and soon stopped completely, but I know of people elsewhere who, despite having turned off their lights, were still getting trick-or-treaters at 9pm and ringing doorbells persistently, refusing to take no for an answer.

Seriously?

Do some people ever think? Do they even care? Those of us who have young children will know how annoying it is to have someone hammering on your door just as you’re trying to get them down to sleep. Or how threatening it can be to hear gangs of older kids making snide remarks outside your door? I know of people who have felt besieged and threatened within their own homes on Halloween.

What can be fun for many is anything but for some. That can’t be right, can it?

That’s the thing about Halloween. People go around trick-or-treating in masks that conceal their identity. But sometimes their behaviour and thoughtlessness reveals what is behind the mask anyway. And that’s what makes the skeletons, witches and ghouls truly scary.

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